Check in to the Standard Bangkok Mahanakhon the next time you’re in the Thai city
The hip hotel brand has turned around the fortunes of Thailand’s tallest tower.
Often the greatest artistic achievements are achieved through adversity.
In Hollywood, all-time classics like Apocalypse Now, Jaws, and Star Wars were notoriously difficult productions. Albums like Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here and The Beatles’ White Album, meanwhile, are legendary as much for the traumatic creative process that informed their making as the incredible music contained in their grooves.
Since the hotel brand’s debut on Los Angeles’ Sunset Boulevard in 1999, The Standard has strived to channel a freewheeling aesthetic inspired by movies and music. Original investors in the Hollywood hotel included actors Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz, and Benicio del Toro, as well as D’arcy Wretzky and James Iha from The Smashing Pumpkins. It is fitting, therefore, that the brand’s Asian flagship — The Standard Bangkok Mahanakhon — has an origin story as twisty as a movie epic — a plot that involves a location that has been surprisingly slow to gain traction with the public. But it’s also appropriate that the tale’s denouement has witnessed a creative flowering that has offered up what is arguably Bangkok’s freshest five-star property.
“The hardest thing to create is something new and fresh — but at the same time, something that feels like it has always been here and simply belonged here,” said Verena Haller, chief design officer of Standard International. “This hotel is a vibrant oasis in the city where you see and be seen!”
So far, the hotel is living up to its promise. The Thai and international in crowd flock here to appreciate plush colourful interiors created by The Standard’s in-house design team in collaboration with Spanish artist Jaime Hayon. There are also opportunities to sample some of Bangkok's most sought-after F&B options, including elevated Mexican venue Ojo and SKy Beach, Thailand's highest rooftop bar.
Indeed, months after opening, things couldn’t look rosier as Bangkok comes alive again following the pandemic and witnesses a resurgence in international visitors. Restaurants like Ojo, casual steakhouse The Standard Grill, and Thailand’s first outpost of Hong Kong-born Chinese restaurant Mott 32 are among the hottest bookings in town. Hotel guests and Bangkok scenesters gather at the hotel’s Parlor bar. As curated beats emanate from the hotel’s state-of-the-art DJ booth and beautiful people mingle freely, it can be easy to overlook the long, hard journey it took to get to this stage. The key element in the saga is the King Power Mahanakon building in which the hotel occupies numerous floors. The distinctive “pixelated” tower, designed by architect Ole Scheeren, stands proud at 314 metres. It may be Thailand's tallest landmark, but it didn't manage to anchor big-name brands including The Edition and Orient Express, both of which promised to open but never did.
The Standard brand, though, has acquired a reputation for chutzpah courtesy of its showbiz-friendly image and collection of hip hotels in the US and locations such as Ibiza, London, and The Maldives. The acquisition of a major stake in the hotel group by Thai real estate developer Sansiri has been a catalyst for major expansion plans in Thailand with the Mahanakon project as its fulcrum. Many felt that if any brand could bring the party to the country’s tallest tower it was The Standard.
But first, there was The Standard Hua Hin, the brand’s debut in Thailand, which opened at the close of 2021. The property has been an immediate hit and has supercharged the scene in the beach city, which is rapidly shedding its reputation for fustiness as it draws in a younger crowd. That property’s success enhanced the positive vibes surrounding the launch of The Standard Bangkok Mahanakhon. And the hotel has duly delivered on its promise since being officially unveiled at the start of August.
"This iconic flagship hotel of The Standard represents an extraordinary phenomenon in the hospitality industry not only in Asia but globally as well,” commented Srettha Thavisin, chairman of Standard International, upon launching. “We are confident that The Standard, Bangkok Mahanakhon will have huge success in delivering the ultimate hotel experience – unlike any other in Thailand.”
The hotel has earned rave reviews since its opening, and it was recently awarded the AHEAD Award for Best Hotel, New Build in Asia. Highlights at the property beyond its rock star restaurants and bars include a beautiful pool with the CBD’s skyline as its backdrop and an adjoining state-of-the-art gym.
Rooms benefit from Hayon’s quirky style, featuring curved corners, mustard and maroon hued upholstery, and designer furniture and lights. Layouts, meanwhile, vary from intimate entry-level affairs to expansive party pads where it's tempting to put The Standard's tolerant attitude to some healthy debauchery to the test.
For many, though, the property's F&B options are its standout numbers. And Ojo is an undoubted star. A beautiful dining room with a pink and gold colour scheme conceptualised by Thai designer and artist Nopadon “Ou” Baholyodhin provides the visual stimulus. But it's the menu put together by Guadalajara-born Francisco "Paco" Ruano that supplies the vital ingredient. Must-try items include a laughably tender slow-cooked birria beef short rib and zingy pescado zarandeado (marinated fish). Mott 32 offers dim sum lunches and elevated Cantonese fare while The Standard Grill features top-notch steaks.
The prioritisation of these F&B outlets and public areas is no accident. Creating social spaces where people from around the world could connect was a focus in the hotel design.
“Other hotels in Bangkok tend to focus their energy and creativity on international travellers,” adds Haller. “But we wanted to make this a place for locals to come. Whether you live in the neighbourhood or you’re visiting from another continent, this hotel is “the” spot to meet and hang out.